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A Financial History of Western Europe

The high wages and abundance of available land seen in the late 15th century and early 16th century were temporary. When the population recovered low wages and a land shortage returned. Historians in the early 20th century characterized the economic in terms of general decline, manorial reorganization, and agricultural contraction. Later historians dropped those themes and stressed the transitions between medieval forms and Tudor progress.[6]


John Leland left rich descriptions of the local economies he witnessed during his travels 1531 to 1560. He described markets, ports, industries, buildings and transport links. He showed some small towns were expanding, through new commercial and industrial opportunities, especially cloth manufacture. He found other towns in decline, and suggested that investment by entrepreneurs and benefactors had enabled some small towns to prosper.[7] Taxation was a negative factor in economic growth, since it was imposed, not on consumption, but on capital investments